When we go on a mini break we always arrive ahead of check in at our accommodation. It means we can usually just leave our bags there (or at least the car parked), and head into the centre to get our bearings, visit the tourist information place and get an idea of where we might want to eat that evening. In York it was no different. We parked the car then walked into the city centre.
Finding our way around York was easy enough, spotting the places we wanted to visit on the following days. Only staying a few days meant we had to be efficient with our time, and seeing the queues for York Minster snaking out the door, meant we’d visit another day, arriving at opening time.
N didn’t want to go into the Treasurer’s House next to the Minster, but we enjoyed a walk through the Dean’s Park next door, and admiring the beautiful flowers and unusual buildings in the streets surrounding it.
We stuck our heads down the famous Shambles row of overhanging shops, and into the Shambles market – N was uninspired, and it’s certainly busier than it was the last time I visited the city 16 years ago. I did point out the little Italian restaurant where the OH and I ate on our trip back then. It’s nice to see it’s still there.
City bus tour
Then decided we’d try and get on a red open top bus tour. The tour driver let N on as an under 5, and we were lucky to get a space on the top floor so we could see everything as we toured all round the city and nearly out to our hotel. Thankfully we didn’t have to wear headsets to hear the tour, because they’re always the wrong length for the distance to the socket or you can never get the volume right.
The tour was interesting enough, with plenty of facts and variety about the buildings we saw. From the city gates and walls, blocked up windows in houses so they didn’t have to pay as much window tax and old chocolate factories.
N loves a bus tour because he remembers things he knows from Horrible Histories and throws those into the mix too, especially when they link in to other cities we’ve been on tours round too.
An afternoon out and we’d decided on our next stops while we were away. The next morning we were in York centre bright and early to visit York Minster.
You can’t miss the minster as walk along some of the streets. It towers above buildings and really is beautiful. There was some work going on, the organ is being cleaned and renovated, but there was plenty going on inside to look at.
N decided he didn’t want to do the offered kids trail, so after paying (it’s free for children), we wandered at leisure. One of the most interesting parts was seeing them setting up for a Halle orchestra concert, presumably later that day.
York Minster is spectacular – beautiful stained glass windows, seemingly never ending walkways alongside the largest gothic nave in England. For its size, it’s still so calm if you sit and take it in.
N refused to go down to the crypt and underneath museum where you can find out more about Vikings and more. We lit a candle to remember N’s Grandma and looked at the ornate decorative ceilings in the mirror tables. Well, I looked and N pulled faces in them. Typical 8 year old!
While cathedrals aren’t usually the sort of thing that children are interested in, if they can find out more about the history, or visit a place to bring to life what they’ve learnt about elsewhere, somewhere like York Minster is worth a visit.
We were there around an hour which isn’t bad going, and as we left the numbers of visitors coming in were on the increase.
After our early morning visit to York Minster, we then did York’s Chocolate Story and the Castle Museum before heading out to Castle Howard for the afternoon. It was great that the Minster opens early at 9am so we could fit everything in.
Recommendations for other day trips out in Yorkshire
Have you ever explored York? Where were your family favourites?